Eastern Quebec town of 3,200 evacuated after fire destroys
NOTRE-DAME-DU-LAC, Que. (CP) - Raging flames destroyed an
abattoir that was the lifeblood of this eastern Quebec community,
forcing 3,200 people from their homes and throwing 500 out of work.
Residents were ordered from their homes after suppertime Tuesday
when the blaze broke out at L'Abattoir du Breton, a plant that
No injuries were reported.
But Mayor Real Voisine said Wednesday that hundreds of jobs
throughout the region, about 450 kilometres northeast of Montreal
near the New Brunswick boundary, hung in the balance.
"Five hundred jobs have been lost - the economic impact is
definitely a tragedy," said Voisine, who was forced to co-ordinate
emergency efforts from a high school in nearby Cabano, Que.
"There are people from 12 municipalities who worked there. So
this doesn't just affect our municipality, it affects all the
Firefighters from several neighbouring communities were called
in to battle the blaze.
Provincial police spokesman Claude Ross said the fire was under
control but continued to burn early Wednesday.
"The worst was avoided," said Ross.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
Authorities ordered everyone within a 1.5-kilometre radius of
the plant to leave the area.
Ross said authorities were initially concerned that ammonia
stored at the plant might seep into the air. But he said there was
no indication of ammonia in the air as of early Wednesday.
School gymnasiums and emergency shelters in the Quebec
communities of Degelis, Cabano and Riviere-du-Loup were opened
Tuesday to take in displaced residents. Authorities transported
others to the homes of relatives or friends in the area.
The local hospital near the plant was closed and patients were
sent to hospitals in Riviere-du-Loup and Edmundston, N.B., each
about 50 kilometres away.
Voisine said emergency crews operated gas-detection equipment
through the night to assess when it would be safe for residents to
return home. He said officials hoped to send people home by late
Wednesday, but there were concerns the town's water supply might
still not be safe.
"We warned people not to drink the water until a new water
advisory is issued because with fire hoses dousing the site,
(pollutants) could have entered the lake and our water system."
Authorities immediately evacuated all residents within 800
metres of the plant when flames were spotted at the abattoir. As
the flames grew more intense and fears of a gas leak mounted, the
entire town was cleared out.
Chantal Poulin, a spokeswoman for the Regional Health Authority
in northwest New Brunswick, said four patients from
Notre-Dame-du-Lac hospital were sent to the regional hospital in
"We took in three adults and a baby," Poulin said.
"These patients were not injured in the fire. These are
patients who were already hospitalized and had to be relocated
because the hospital had to be closed."
Voisine said the town would apply for emergency relief funds
once the damage was assessed.
Despite the devastating impact on the small rural community,
Voisine said the fire was not the worst tragedy ever to befall
He noted 40 people died in 1969 when fire ripped through a
(Copyright 909 by The Associated Press
NOTE: An abbattoir is defined as any premises or place habitually used for the slaughter of animals for human consumption.
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Thread: NOTRE-DAME-DU-LAC, Quebec
05-15-2002, 03:15 AM #1
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